Wood's promise is Reformer sports story of 2013

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BRATTLEBORO -- Forty-four years after quarterback Joe Namath's infamous Super Bowl guarantee, Kayla Wood made a promise of her own.

On Saturday, May 4, the senior pitcher for the Brattleboro Union High School softball team told assistant coach Jeff Rawson that the Colonels would reach the state championship game. And those confident words came just days after Rawson had informed the team that he had bone cancer.

Not only would the purple and white get to the big game, they would also win it -- for their third state crown in four seasons.

Wood shut out all four of Brattleboro's playoff opponents. She capped it off by fanning 20 and pitching a perfect game in a 1-0 victory over Missisquoi in the June 19 finale in Poultney.

"Boy, did they ever deliver. I am very humbled and blessed by the love and support this team continues to bestow upon me and my family," said Rawson, who had his chemotherapy appointment postponed so that he could attend the title tilt.

Two other area teams were also crowned in 2013, including the Bellows Falls boys track team and the Twin Valley boys soccer team.

What the Wildcats did was simply awesome. A perfect 17-0 record, 16 shutouts, blanking Proctor 3-0 at Whitcomb High School in the Division 4 championship on Nov. 2.

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"My team did tremendously well this season. And they did it in the right way," stated Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford, who will receive the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's Small School National Coach of the Year award in mid January for his team's great run.

Dal Nesbitt (24 goals, 22 assists) and Colin Lozito (19 goals, 19 assists) were the most dangerous weapons for the Wildcats. Troy Felisko finished with 11 goals, defensive standout Eli Park added eight, and goalie Sam Molner wound up with a brilliant .07 Goals Against Average.

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On the oval, Jamie Moore swept the 800, 1500 and 3000 to lead the Terriers to gold in the Division 3 state track meet. Enny Mustapha also had a huge day, finishing first in the shot put, javelin and 4x100 relay as the Bellows Falls girls took second place.

During the winter months, something special was taking place across the river. The Hinsdale girls basketball team was filling "the Stable" with enthusiastic fans as they kept on winning. With Athletic Director Mike McCosker waving a towel and super fan Mikey Batts shouting encouragement, the Pacers prevailed over Sunapee 51-47 to complete their 18-0 regular season. Allison Scott then scored a combined 33 points in the first and second round playoff games, before the Pacers fell to Groveton 45-32 in the Division 4 semifinals.

Equally impressive was the 15-0 mark that coach Chris Millerick's Little League Pirates ended up with. A game-winning hit by Rachael Rooney, in a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox, allowed the Bucs to stay perfect.

Halie Lange had one of the greatest individual performances of the year. On Feb. 21 in Craftsbury, the Brattleboro Union High School senior defended her Nordic freestyle state title by winning the 5K race in 16:33. She was able to hold off the Champlain Valley Union tandem of Taylor Spillane (16:59) and Autumn Eastman (17:00).

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Sarah Wells scored 25 goals for the Bellows Falls field hockey team, which went 14-2-1. Chris Lamb of Andover, N.H., dominated the annual Harris Hill Ski Jumping Competition on Cedar Street in mid February. And Nolan Viens of the Bellows Falls-Hartford wrestling team defeated MAU's Houston Shaler, 7-3, in the 145-pound state final in Vergennes.

On the roads in Brattleboro, it was Williamsville's Tammy Richards who dominated. She was the first female finisher in the Firecracker 4-miler (25:09) and the three-mile Turkey Trot (18:54).

Brattleboro resident Nancy Heydinger ran in the Boston Marathon with her daughter, Caroline, on April 15. With Caroline having already finished the race, Nancy was cooling down when she heard the blast.

"I was in the finish line corral. As soon as I got my blanket, we heard a really loud explosion. I could see the smoke," Nancy told the Reformer that night while her and her daughter were safe at home.

The two pressure cooker bombs that exploded at 2:49 p.m., near the finish line on Boylston Street, killed three people and injured an estimated 264 others.

Shane Covey can be reached at scovey@reformer.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.


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